WIR #31: Elantris

ElantrisSanderson, Brandon. Elantris. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC. Copyright © 2005 Brandon Sanderson.

Brandon Sanderson on the web:


I'm now reading Brandon Sanderson's Elantris. I've already read the first two chapters. Although this is a first novel, it's off to a good beginning. I've noticed recently that I'm reading fiction with "renewed vision," so to speak. I'm taking note of things that I didn't used to take note of. I think this is a good sign, a sign, I think, that I've started to read as a writer. Typos/misprints still catch my eye, as do what I think are awkward phrasings, but, more importantly, I'm paying more attention to the structure of what Sanderson and others are doing as I'm reading.

This has to be the result of a goal I set earlier this year. You recall the goal, yes? I'd drawn up a list of six novels that I'd read through quickly, for enjoyment, and then I'd read through them again, slowly, and outline them scene by scene, chapter by chapter, and finish up with a one paragraph summary of each book. I think this whole process has started to morph into my being able to read for entertainment and to read critically at the same time. I seem to recall that Dorothea Brande, in her book, Becoming a Writer, spoke of the same sort of exercise (or something similar) that was recommended by Lawrence Block in his book, Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print. This exercise I've been doing was prompted by my having reread Block's book. Brande, too, though, speaks of reading like a writer and recommends reading twice. Brande, however, says that as time passes you're able to accomplish both in one reading as you become more proficient at it.

WIR #30: Now is the Time

Now is the TimeLindsay, Patrick. Now is the Time: 170 Ways to Seize the Moment. New York: MJF Books. Copyright © 2009 Patrick Lindsay.



I finished this little volume a couple of hours ago. I could easily have finished it sooner than I did, but I wanted to savour the short but thought provoking entries on each page. It's the sort of book that one can't just read in one sitting if one really wants to get the most out of it. One has to return to it again and again, to give each subject more thoughtful consideration and to implement each of the 170 ways to seize the day. And I intend to do just that, return to it at a later time. In the meanwhile, I made note of several quotations in the book that spoke to me.

WIR #30: Now is the Time

Now is the TimeLindsay, Patrick. Now is the Time: 170 Ways to Seize the Moment. New York: MJF Books. Copyright © 2009 Patrick Lindsay.



I'm now reading Now is the Time: 170 Ways to Seize the Moment, by Patrick Lindsay. I should finish this quickly. The book is a compilation of quotes and brief devotionals on a variety of subjects, all geared towards taking today, now, this moment to change one's life. Here is a brief morsel of what's inside, from the first entry:

Now is the time... to tame your inbox

Stop allowing e-mail to dominate your life.
It interrupts your concentration.
It puts you in a state of constant anticipation.
Break the cycle. Disconnect.
Treat it like snail mail.
Check it once each morning and late afternoon.
Give yourself time to think.

"Information is pretty thin stuff, unless mixed with experience."
Clarence Day (1874-1935)

This is what the entries are like, some more profound than others, but all worthy of consideration and thought.

WIR #29: The Pnume

The PnumeVance, Jack. The Dirdir. New York: Ace Books, Inc. Copyright © 1970 Jack Vance.

Jack Vance Archive:

I have finished the final installment in Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure novels, The Pnume.

I found the ending for this a bit of an anti-climax, although it did satisfy somewhat by way of showing how Adam Reith affected/influenced the Pnume, just as he also affected/influenced all the other alien races on the Planet Tschai.

WIR #29: The Pnume

The PnumeVance, Jack. The Dirdir. New York: Ace Books, Inc. Copyright © 1970 Jack Vance.

Jack Vance Archive:

I am now reading the final installment in Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure novels, The Pnume. The blurb follows:


The Pnume were an ancient race of the planet Tschai, living underground in a vast network of caverns with their human slave-species, the Pnumekin.

The Pnume were the historians of Tschai, collecting its past with scholarly interest. Surface-dwellers never saw the Pnume, if the surface-dwellers were lucky.

Adam Reith was not so fortunate. The Pnume had heard rumors of a strange man, claiming to come from the planet Earth, and they needed him for Foreverness, the museum of Tschai life. Adam Reith was about to become an alien exhibit.

WIR #28: The Dirdir

The DirdirVance, Jack. The Dirdir. New York: Ace Books, Inc. Copyright © 1969 Jack Vance.

Jack Vance Archive:

I have just completed The Dirdir, and I loved the humourous twist at the end.

WIR #28: The Dirdir

The DirdirVance, Jack. The Dirdir. New York: Ace Books, Inc. Copyright © 1969 Jack Vance.

Jack Vance Archive:

I have just finished Servants of the Wankh, and I am now reading the third book in Vance's Planet of Adventure series, The Dirdir. I've a memory of reading this book, along with Tolkien's The Hobbit, when I lived in England. I believe my family was on vacation, that my father's parents had come to visit England for their 40th wedding anniversary (courtesy of my father and his siblings), and we were on a trip up to Scotland. So, yeah, this means that I am reading it again.

That said, the blurb:

Getting back to Earth from the planet Tschai involved only stealing a spaceship or having one built to order — for the Tschai was the abode of several intelligent star-born races and, as such, had spaceyards. But Adam Reith's problem was not so simple.

He'd already been lucky to escape the Chasch and the Wankh, and a dozen different types of human, and now his course led directly to the Great Sivishe Spaceyards in the domains of the Dirdir.

But the Dirdir were quite different from the other aliens who competed for this world. They were quicker, more sinister, and had an unrelenting thirst for hunting victims like Adam Reith. The closer he came to his objective, the keener their hunting instincts would become....

WIR #27: Servants of the Wankh

Servants of the WankhVance, Jack. Servants of the Wankh. New York: Ace Books, Inc. Copyright © 1969 Jack Vance.

Jack Vance Archive:

Having finished City of the Chasch, I am now reading the second book in Vance's Planet of Adventure series, Servants of the Wankh.

Herewith is the blurb for this volume:

Marooned on the strange planet Tschai, Adam Reith agreed to lead an expedition to return the princess Ylin Ylan, the Flower of Cath, to her homeland halfway around the globe.

Monsters of land and sea lay before them, and beings both human and alien who might rob, kill or enslave them. Tschai was a large planet, an ancient planet, where four powerful alien races struggled for mastery while humans were treated as pawns; nothing would be easy for Reith on this journey.

But the girl's father was enormously wealthy, her homeland technically sophisticated. If Reith was ever to obtain human aid in returning to Earth, where better than Cath?

If he could get there....

As mentioned in my previous entry, the title of this book tells which of the four alien races is featured in this volume: the Wankh.

WIR #26: City of the Chasch

City of the ChaschVance, Jack. City of the Chasch. New York: Ace Books, Inc. Copyright © 1968 Jack Vance.

Jack Vance Archive:
I am now finished with City of the Chasch. Each of the four books in this series is named after one of four different alien races (not counting men) who inhabit the planet Tschai. Thus, City of the Chasch is named for the Chasch.

The article on Jack Vance at Wikipedia is, I think, worth reading. Born in 1916 in San Francisco, California, Vance, who is now 93, is still with us. This snippet from the Wikipedia article is telling:

When asked about literary influences, Vance often cites Jeffery Farnol, a writer of adventure books, whose style of 'high' language he mentions (the Farnol title Guyfford of Weare being a typical instance); P. G. Wodehouse, an influence in Vance's taste for overbearing aunts; and L. Frank Baum, fantasy elements in whose work have been directly borrowed by Vance (see 'The Emerald City of Oz').

For a period, while reading City of the Chasch, I wrote down unusual words that either are seen infrequently in modern fiction (in my experience) or words with which I am unfamiliar or which I'd not seen in fiction in many a year. Below is a sample (which I think is an example of the 'high' language referred to above):

  • lambent
  • diffident
  • truculent
  • stalwart
  • slatternly
  • surreptitious
  • obsequious
  • insensate
  • comestible
  • torpid
  • poltroon
  • recalcitrance
  • trice
  • adduce
  • bellicosity

As to the story itself, I quite enjoyed it, although the hero, Adam Reith, sometimes seemed a might too inconstant in his zeal towards his ultimate goal.

WIR #26: City of the Chasch

City of the ChaschVance, Jack. City of the Chasch. New York: Ace Books, Inc. Copyright © 1968 Jack Vance.

Jack Vance Archive:
http://www.jackvance.com/

I remember, many years ago, owning and reading a couple of the books in Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure series. This is the first book in that series, published in 1968, when it cost all of 50¢, as opposed to the $7.99 that mass-market paperbacks cost now.

The blurb from the back cover:

When the Terran starship Explorator IV reached the planet Tschai, its crew didn't know what to expect. Tschai was so far from Earth that the distress signal which had brought them here must have taken centuries to reach them. Whatever cataclysm had threatened this planet was probably long past.

So they went into orbit around Tschai, and sent a man named Adam Reith down to explore in a scout-boat.

Suddenly a gray projectile darted up from the planet, and Explorator IV was blown to bits. Reith's scout-boat hurtled out of control to crash-land on the planet below.

Injured and alone on this alien world, Reith faced dangers he could not even imagine. But Reith was not a man to give up — and he had a deadly score to settle with someone . . . or something . . . on the planet Tschai.

Now that's how you write a blurb. I've read the opening scenes of the book and most of that blurb reveals those scenes and little else.

WIR #25: Julius Caesar

Julius CaesarShakespeare, William. Julius Caesar.



I am now done with Julius Caesar.

I've always found the actions of Marc Antony in this play to be the most intriguing. Shortly after the assassination of Julius Caesar, he makes to show himself kind to the murderers, but not necessarily in support of what they've done. In fact, he wants to know the justification for their act. Understandable, I think. Later, he swears that all the assassins will die, which they do (and the ghost of Caesar makes a couple of appearances to Brutus), but the hand of Antony appears to be guiltless of shedding any of the blood that is spilt. Several of the assassins, including Brutus, commit suicide. Is it, as Brutus speculated, a supernatural act brought about by the death of Caesar? Or are they all killing themselves out of guilt? That's a point, I'm sure, that one could debate forever. I quite enjoyed Julius Caesar, but it is far from being my favourite of Shakespeare's plays.

Beta Readers

I've managed to find me another Beta Reader. This makes two. I'd like to find me at least one more.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I went to Balticon over the Memorial Day weekend earlier this year. While there I picked up some information on Maryland Writers' Association. I'd like to look at getting into a writing group, if I can manage the time.